Jeremy Corbyn accuses Boris Johnson of secret deal to sell the NHS

The rumors that the Conservative party will seek to use the National Health Service as a bargaining chip in getting a trade deal with the US after they leave the EU has been around for a long time. The Conservatives and Boris Johnson have vigorously denied it because for all the grumbling about its shortcomings (mainly caused by insufficient government finding) people are fond of the NHS and would fiercely resent giving it up and letting the poisonous American private health system be foisted on them.

But Corbyn says that they have received a leaked dossier that shows that Johnson has already been in negotiations with the US to put the NHS up for sale.

Boris Johnson’s claim that healthcare is “not on the table” in UK and US trade talks has been undermined by the release of official papers that reveal the two countries have repeatedly discussed dismantling protections that keep NHS drug prices down.

The 451 pages of uncensored documents show that between July 2017 and July 2019, senior UK and US trade officials discussed the NHS, drug patents, the pharmaceutical industry, health insurance and medical devices as part of the post-Brexit trade deal.

Experts have warned the documents show the US wants the UK to rip up the way it sets drug prices – potentially leading to billions of pounds a year in added costs for the NHS.

The record of the high-level talks, released on Wednesday by the Labour party, reveals that the US prefers a hard or no-deal Brexit scenario, and that American officials suggested that progressing free-trade talks between the nations could aid Donald Trump in his bid for presidential re-election in 2020.

The US prefers a no-deal Brexti because if the UK completely leaves the Customs Union and its single market, they would be at the mercy of the US in creating a bilateral trade deal.

Of course Boris Johnson denies that the NHS is on the table but he is a liar like his hero Trump.


  1. says

    There are two problems with single payer healthcare…

    1) With sick people being able to access healthcare, there are going to be wait times. As much as Republicans liked to scare people with “government death panels” and rationing, the truth is it’s under a private for-profit system where you’re more likely to be denied because using your insurance means you’re cutting into profits.

    2) You’re not always going to have governments friendly to public healthcare. Conservatives will get into power, starve the system, then try to convince the public that it’s broken and throwing more money at it isn’t going to solve the problem.

  2. ColeYote says

    And the same day I hear about this, I cAme across a poll projecting the largest Tory majority since the Thatcher years.

  3. Roj Blake says

    Tabby, Australia now has a long history of single-payer, and now even the NeoCons can’t touch it.

    In 1973 Australia’s first and probably last socialist government introduced Medibank, a single-payer system funded by a levy on all wages and topped up from General Revenue. Doctors, insurers, conservatives, all fought tooth and nail against it. A new Conservative government sold Medibank in 1976 and it was back to the past.

    A new, softer left-wing government was elected in 1983 and managed to hold government for 8 years. This government introduced Medicare, th successor to Medibank, as well as introducing a subsidy for medicines. The same forces arraigned against it.

    Neocons have attempted to tinker with it, but it is now so popular that not just the general public, but the doctors themselves are nopw staunch defenders.

  4. VolcanoMan says


    Single-payer healthcare is not a cause of wait times (contrary to what the GOP want us to believe). Here in Canada, we have single-payer healthcare and wait times, but the one is not the cause of the other…wait times exist because people don’t want to pay the taxes required to fund our Medicare programme to the extent that wait times are reduced or eliminated (Canadians are, generally-speaking more…amiable towards taxes, and we do pay higher taxes than most Americans, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t regressive ding-dongs here too who feel that taxes are theft and whatnot).

    But even that isn’t the whole story because wait times, while annoying, are not all created equal. Example -- my mother had a rare form of skin cancer called Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) diagnosed from a biopsy in March 2018. She waited less than 2 weeks for the operation to get the affected skin, and sentinel lymph node, removed. Fortunately, the cancer was detected early and she’s been fine since. But just a week ago, she detected some hard tissue deep in her arm near the site where the cancer was, so she immediately got an appointment with CancerCare, and though the doctor figured it was probably scar tissue, he ordered an ultrasound, which she received THE NEXT DAY (fortunately, it appears that it was indeed scar tissue). If you need a non-urgent or cosmetic dermatology appointment it can take up to 12 months, but if it’s serious, you get seen right away, and any follow-up procedures happen quickly. And they are now running the MRIs and CTs 24/7, so even wait times for non-urgent scans (where the condition is not life-threatening, like for example a suspected case of a broken bone not healing properly or something) are less than 6 weeks typically.

    Note that my experiences are limited to healthcare in Manitoba and Quebec…it might be different elsewhere. But the concern over waiting for care is WAY overblown. You can get in to see your GP usually with no notice at all (most keep a few spots open each day that are first-come first-serve to whoever calls them at 8 AM when the office opens), and if he detects something that is concerning, you see a specialist quickly.

    As for the concern that governments are not always friendly to healthcare, that is also not as bad as it seems. The fact is that when people are relying on single-payer healthcare, the government is ACCOUNTABLE to the people in a way that they’re not in a private insurance type scenario. Bad experiences in hospital or whatever due to low funding tends to bite those governments in the rear end. Plus healthcare unions, especially the nursing union are always raising public awareness about how difficult their jobs are becoming and how they are unable to provide the best care if funding is restricted. People respect nurses and listen to them. That’s not to say that starving the system doesn’t happen…we’ve had a Conservative government for the last 3+ years, and they have restricted funding, but there is a limit to what they can do…things aren’t the best, but I’d still choose this over having to pay more money (because private insurance in the US is far more costly than the average taxes an individual here pays towards Medicare) for essentially the same product (we score better on some metrics and worse on others, but it is basically the same thing, except people here are spending 30-40% less on average).

  5. Jenora Feuer says

    @Roj Blake:
    I presume the fact that doctors were fighting against it was mostly due to not trusting the government to not screw this up? Because a lot of the stories I’ve heard from the U.S. (I’m Canadian) say that most legitimate doctors in the U.S. absolutely loathe the current system, because it pretty much requires them to have extra staff on hand for no other reason than to deal with insurance issues. And that’s on top of the fact that getting money from the insurance companies can be a royal pain, even for the doctors. The current corporate insurance-driven medical system is part of what’s responsible for doctors having so little time to actually work with patients.

    From a doctor’s standpoint, single-payer is a dream to work with, because it’s a whole lot less bureaucracy, and pretty much all payments are done by the government tables, so you always know what you’re getting.

  6. says

    I’ve had good luck with wait times in British Columbia. Especially with diagnostic imaging.

    Blood draws and other bodily sample collection (like urine) can often take a couple days since that’s typically done in a specialized location that does little else, then the samples are chilled and transported to a big lab and stuck in queue for testing and then the test results go back to your doctor’s office and then the nurse calls you to make an appointment, etc. In all, it can take about 10 days for that stuff to go through.

    But imaging? For me it’s always been next day (mostly) or same day (a couple times). There’s only ever been two specialists that I had to wait any significant time to see, and both were a matter of a few weeks. I think the longest wait was 6. In neither case was it significant to my care.*

    * Theoretically one of them might have been, but I’m confident that the referring ophthalmologist knew the difference between a serious case that needs attention and an emergency case that needs attention right away. It was actually a very interesting condition, involving uncontrolled, though very slow, growth of the keratinous outer covering of the cornea. If the keratin does not stop growing (which it does from the edge, I guess, I’m not sure), it pushes towards the center and eventually forms a peak. The early signs are simply refractive distortions from a “mountainous” shape of clear keratin with sharp “cliffsides” that are obviously going to distort incoming light in different directions. This type of distortion can’t be corrected by glasses, but the outer edges of the lens are typically still covered by smooth keratin and looking at something just off center can eliminate the distortion. Your brain also has ways of compensating via a form of “smoothing” which I understand to be mainly about allowing your eye to move quickly from focus to focus while allowing you to think for a moment that the last thing you were directing your eyes toward was still in focus. Combine with eye jitter which is used to enhance depth perception and few things stay dead center for very long in a way for which the brain can’t compensate.

    Still, it eventually gets to the point where it’s noticeable (and annoying). Mine had just become noticeable, but I hadn’t even brought it up to the eye doctor because I wasn’t even sure it was a permanent thing or something to worry about. The correct thing to do for this is to burn your cornea down flat with lasers, which is apparently tricky to do without damaging the retina.

    More severe cases, however, can actually lift the cornea off the eyeball. For a while even this is okay-ish, but as the peak lifts farther and farther away from the surface of the eye, the cornea can dry out and be damaged (and thus need a transplant) and/or the sharp transitions along different edges of the hard keratin can become fracture points. Even if they don’t break by accidentally bumping the eye, these can eventually get so bad that they spontaneously rupture, ripping the cornea and draining the tear-fluid keeping your cornea moist and alive. Again, this requires a cornea transplant. When my regular eye doctor was lecturing me to make sure I followed up with the specialist, she drove the point home by telling me that my eyeballs were on a timer to explode and no one could predict exactly when that would happen. She also told me it might never happen and if my eyes did explode, it might take 10 years, but since no one could predict exactly when it would happen it was must better to go soon and prevent a transplant and/or blindness.

    This allowed me to have some fun talking about my explosive eyeballs, and this is the basis for any concern with waiting for the laser surgery (and why my regular eye-doctor wanted me to follow up with the specialist), but as I said, I have confidence in my doctor. So I don’t think i would have waited those 6 weeks if the keratin had peaked high enough to be in danger of exploding in less than 6 weeks. She would have known that, I believe, and I have faith the system would have found a way to rush treatment for a late-diagnosed case.

    Anyway, that’s the long story about how my explosive eyeballs were defused by burning them with a laser.

  7. Roj Blake says

    Jenora Feuer, the doctors fought against it because they didn’t want “socialised medicine”, they didn’t want the government regulating their incomes, because they were all “hairy-chested macho men” who didn’t want to be pushed around.

    Now they are the strongest supporters because it stabilises income, still permits them to set fees above and beyond the recommended government fee, and patients receive better outcomes. Some patients have to pay a fee to the doctor’s clinic, others don’t. My clinic is happy to take the government-mandated fee, so I pay nothing extra.

    The biggest improvement Australia (and elsewhere) could make would be to adopt the New Zealand model, Pharmac, where a single government body negotiates with drug companies and bulk buys the drugs. The chemist/pharmacist is paid a dispensing fee ($5 per prescription when I left NZ in 2013).

  8. VolcanoMan says

    Ah, Alberta. Now I understand. I don’t know what it is about Manitoba, but our conservatives have had a hard time convincing people that the system they have been starving of cash was broken. But they didn’t starve it of as much cash…and I think they know that if care gets too bad, it would be on their heads, that people wouldn’t buy that public healthcare doesn’t work (since it absolutely DOES when funded appropriately). What conservatives can get away with I think depends heavily on how much people trust the government, and not just the political entity, but the bureaucratic one (i.e. do they believe that the government-provided services are worth the taxes they cost?). People like Medicare here…in Alberta they clearly don’t as much, or they wouldn’t have been so keen to try and make it 2-tiered (public/private) during the Klein years. There isn’t a desire for that here, and if our PCs tried to make it happen, they’d be consigning themselves to election defeat.

    But yes, single-payer systems are at the mercy of governments…fortunately, if governments don’t respect the will of the people, they don’t stay in power (at least that’s the theory…and it’s largely true in Canada at least). So if the system is being starved of cash, it’s because people want it to be…and that’s the PEOPLES’ fault. And honestly, I’ve never understood the “hating taxes” impulse -- I love taxes! Taxes are what make society function. The higher the better, in my book. As long as people are left with a wage that supports a middle-class lifestyle, there is really no limit to the taxation I’d be in favour of, since taxes are the great equalizer, a way to eliminate the situational factors that determine who succeeds in life and who doesn’t and create true equality (and the opportunity for meritocracy).

  9. says

    Oh, we like our public healthcare in Alberta which is why the Cons have been working for decades trying to convince us it’s broken and selling what it can piecemeal. It’s telling that one thing the Harper government didn’t do, though I’m sure there was talk about it among them, was abolish the Canada Health Act.

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